Tag Archives: aliens

Christopher Columbus: hero or villain?

Every year on Columbus Day we always have to hear stories about “the real” Christopher Columbus, about how he was a total jerk. Yes, he sailed to the new world and, yes, apparently he killed a lot of natives. But that was so long ago, and the history is always evolving. Isn’t it a little shortsighted of us to close the book on Columbus? Maybe he wasn’t the evil villain character so popular with modern historians. Maybe he was a hero.


I’m just saying, what if Columbus sailed to America, and he found the population enslaved by a race of evil aliens? I wasn’t around back then, so I can only rely on my imagination here, but could there have been? Can you definitely say that the new continent wasn’t overrun by alien warlords?

If it was, and just hear me out here, if Christopher Columbus sailed all the way to America, only to find the local inhabitants hopelessly enslaved by a group of otherworldly terrorists, and, lets say that Columbus wasn’t a dick, but was actually a pretty good guy, wouldn’t it make sense that he would totally try to help the American Indians rid themselves of their spacefaring captors?

Sure, we think that the Europeans were a lot more technologically advanced than the peoples of North America. But compared to an alien civilization capable of interplanetary conquest, the explorers must have looked downright primitive. So you can imagine the uphill battle Columbus would have faced in taking on a whole fleet of extraterrestrials, if they were actually there, and if Columbus wasn’t a total jerk.

The ensuing battle would have been a massacre, with tons of casualties on both sides. But what if Columbus and his men were somehow successful? What if they fought bravely enough to drive the aliens back from where came? Columbus and his men would be surrounded by the wreckage of an alien war, dead bodies piled up around them. With the aliens now gone, who would believe their story?

Nobody, and that’s why we’re all blaming it on Columbus. And if the aliens are still out there, don’t you think they’re constantly beaming down misinformation about how the events actually went down? I bet you they’re weaseling their way onto the Internet this very second, spreading lies about how it was Columbus and his men who butchered the Indians.

It’s just a theory, obviously, and a working theory at that. I’m always thinking up new possibilities for how the aliens got here in the first place, what their plans were after they finished conquering the Americas, and how, if any of this is true, the European explorers actually saved the whole planet. But yeah, I don’t have a lot of facts.

But still, the next time you hear someone talking about how Columbus was an asshole, about how he and his men butchered and maimed and raped everyone they came in contact with, just ask yourself, are you sure it wasn’t aliens? Are you really sure? Are positive? Can you prove it wasn’t? No? So stop being so judgmental. Just enjoy your day off. Happy Christopher Columbus Day.

I’d move to Mars

If they ever figure out how to viably populate some sort of a permanent settlement on Mars, I’d totally go. “Pack you bags,” I’d give my wife an ultimatum. “It’s either you come with me to Mars, or we’ll have to say goodbye forever.” And of course she’d say yes, because who wouldn’t want to live on another planet?


And I’m not talking about one of these one-way ticket deals where you have to go and set up your own space colony. No, I want the space colony to be already somewhat established. You know, drinking water, some sort of indoor plumbing situation, obviously food is going to be probably limited, but I’d still prefer a decent enough selection so as to have some variety in my diet. Oh yeah, and there has to be Internet. And I’m not talking just like a Mars Internet. It has to be able to connect to the Earth Internet.

Given all of these modest requirements are met, I’d absolutely go live on Mars. Would I ever be able to come back to Earth for a visit? Well, I’d like the option, but I guess it’s not mandatory. Just like maybe once every three or four years, how about I get to spend a month back home? Are there going to be regular transport ships back and forth? Maybe just some vacation time would be cool.

So I’m in. That would be so awesome. I’m so sick of looking outside and constantly seeing everything in blue and green. I for one would welcome the opportunity to feast my eyes on a landscape of red, orange and brown.

Oh yeah, I don’t know what the Mars colony policy might be regarding flora and fauna, but my dog Steve has to be allowed to come with us. That’s a non-negotiable. Obviously I’ll ask him if he wants to come. I mean, I believe that animals have a right to do whatever they want. But my dog is pretty easy to manipulate. For example, I’ve always had a feeling that if I left the door open, he’d just run away. But I buy these huge meaty dog biscuits at Petco, and any time he tries to escape, I hold one of them out, and he always comes running back. So I don’t think it’ll be too difficult convincing him to come to Mars.

Think of how much more space I’ll have on Mars. In the early stages of colonization anyway, there should be plenty of available land. I don’t see why I wouldn’t be able to be governor of my own Martian territory. And hundreds of years from now, when schoolchildren are learning about the early history of Mars, they won’t have to look back and worry about all of those dirty historical details that we’re confronted with every time we look at our own founding fathers. There aren’t any Indians to massacre, and I promise not to use slave labor to build my otherworldly utopia. On the off chance that I do happen to run into any sort of subterranean extraterrestrial civilization, I promise to be really cool. And if my earthly bacteria accidentally give the aliens a space plague, I pledge to do everything in my power to urge scientists both on Mars and back home to pour all of their resources into finding a cure.

I really want to go live on Mars. So I hope that we see some wild advances in space exploration within the next ten years or so. Because I’m not getting any younger. If developing a working cryogenics program to keep me in stasis until Mars is up and running, I’m OK with that, whatever gets me to Mars.

Movie Review: The World’s End

Ah yes, a British movie. I went to see The World’s End, and I couldn’t help but thinking about all of the movies I’ve seen that were made across the Atlantic: not too many. I’m sure they make lots of films over there, but the ones that make it to me, to a pretty average American moviegoer, I don’t know, it’s like The King’s Speech, Monty Python … do Hugh Grant movies count? They totally don’t count. Even in his most British pictures, he’s really just something on loan from the UK to Hollywood, like even though Love Actually took place across the pond, there were all sorts of American actors and tropes and …

world's end robot

And what am I talking about, Love Actually? I never saw Love Actually, I just remember overhearing someone else talk about it once. Someone really stupid. And I could just tell how inauthentic the whole thing was, you know, from this non-Englishman’s point of view.

The World’s End is billed as the third part in a trilogy of sorts, although besides the principle cast and writing team, there’s not really a coherent story linking all three parts. Shaun of the Dead imagined how Simon Pegg would confront the zombie apocalypse, Hot Fuzz had something to do with police officers (I never actually saw Hot Fuzz,) and The World’s End follows five high school friends who reunite twenty years later to finish a twelve-stop pub crawl they almost completed back when they were eighteen.

I realized pretty soon into the movie that I was laughing a lot more than I would be at this point during an American movie, during parts in any movie that I wouldn’t normally find laugh-out-loud funny. I attributed a lot of the giggles to the fact that everybody’s talking really fast, jokes weaved tightly into every sentence, with absolutely no stopping for even the briefest of pauses between syllables or breaths. It’s just non-stop dialogue and everybody’s speaking in an accent and, yeah, I guess that is pretty funny.

The humor is very dark. Simon Pegg’s main character Gary King hasn’t developed at all since the early 1990s montage that opens the film. By the time we meet our protagonist in the present day, twenty years of partying have taken their toll. The whole intro, the extended speech explaining the almost-made-it night of twenty years ago, it winds up being told by King in the middle of a twelve-step meeting, and even the other participants seem disturbed by the enthusiasm in which he recounts the best day of his life.

King rallies his old friends and convinces them to have a proper night. Twelve bars, twelve beers, all culminating at The World’s End, a fitting name for the final tavern. As the Five Musketeers head out to their old home town, in King’s high school car, with the same exact cassette mix tape never having been removed from the tape deck, the gang starts to question the psychic hold their friend seems to manage over everyone else.

Just as the adults step in to make some belated adult decisions, it turns out that the town has been taken over by robots. And even though that’s pretty much the whole plot of the movie, once things get rolling, a lot of the genuine character-driven plot evaporates. I get it, I guess, that this kind of a spoof on a disaster movie is a way to confront existential problems, addiction, middle-age, conformity, feelings of isolation, but I just couldn’t help but feel that the group dynamic was building toward something. And then the robot thing happens and that’s basically the rest of the movie.

All the way until the really bizarre ending, something that, after having seen Monty Python, I’m just going to go ahead and make the sweeping generalization that all British movies have to have crazy endings. Except for The King’s Speech. Did I mention that I saw The King’s Speech already? Well, I saw it. Although, I guess it’s not all that normal of a movie, right? A king? With a stutter? And the doctor is some crazy guy from Australia? That didn’t really happen, did it?

Movie Review: Pacific Rim

Throughout the entirety of Pacific Rim, all I could think about was stuff like, wow, this is such an awesome movie. It keeps getting better and better. Not once am I finding myself even remotely bored. I cannot wait to go home and write about how much I loved this movie.


And I did love the movie. But I saw it with my wife and the first thing she said upon exiting the theater was, “Wow, that was dumb.” How could we have arrived at two dramatically differing opinions after sitting next to each other for the exact same two and a half hours? Worse, why couldn’t I really mount a defense?

Because, look, I know when I’m defending movies that shouldn’t be defended. Like when I write about how much I loved Iron Man 3 or Thor, yeah, it’s probably because I’ve spent over fifty percent of my life reading comic books, that it’d have to be a really bad comic book movie for me to admit that I didn’t at some level at least enjoy a little bit what I just saw.

Like Daredevil, or Spider Man 3. Go ahead and start throwing eggs, I know that I’m broaching a very sensitive subject here, but were those movies really that bad? I haven’t watched them in a while, but I remember enjoying them. I liked the first Hulk movie. I always default back to the twelve year old me growing up on Long Island, no Internet, no cable TV, I used to get a thrill just from watching Fantastic Four cartoons on Sunday mornings. Never in my wildest imagination would I picture myself as an adult presented with dozens upon dozens of full-length comic book motion pictures featuring B-list superheroes.

I’m getting a little sidetracked from Pacific Rim, yes, but this is all adding up to a huge disclaimer, that in an attempt to review movies, I’m trying to go for an unbiased reaction after having seen one. I don’t know what the opening weekend numbers are, and I’ve yet to read any professional reviewers. I just want to go see a movie, and try as best I can to call it like I see it.

But it’s often the case that something cool like this will come out, a superhero movie, or in this case, a robots vs. alien monsters movie, and I can already picture exactly how the naysayers will react, similar to how my wife put it, that it was dumb. That it was just a bunch of fight scenes linked together by a pretty cheap plot.

And yeah, I guess, if you want to get all cynical and scientific about the movie, I suppose there really isn’t a whole lot more to it than that, alien monsters invade the earth through a portal deep in the Pacific. In response, we build a bunch of rock-em, sock-em robots to beat them all up.

But whatever, those feelings I was experiencing in that theater were real. It was pure joy. And I’ve sat through movies that should have been catered to me, like the new Superman, and I’ve been put to sleep. There was seriously no down time in the fun and excitement here. The score was a movie length fight song. The battle scenes were pure chaotic euphoria.

Did I mention that the pilots of the robots have to link their minds via something called a neural handshake? And that’s not like a colloquialism, the scientists say stuff like, “Neural handshake complete.” That’s what I’m looking for in a big action robot movie, people maintaining a straight face while talking about a neural handshake. The side characters, the almost unnecessary plots and asides and conveniently placed toilets that made up the caulk to this movie’s tiles, everything was fun, ridiculous, everything was insane.

And it’s a good concept. When was the last time we’ve had a really crazy monster movie? All I can think of are the old Godzilla films from decades ago. I know that the series has been rebooted several times in recent years, but nothing sticks, because everything tries too hard to be serious, to depict a modern world where big monsters wreak havoc.

This isn’t that world. It’s just further enough in the future to where the world resembles the one we live in, but all of the backstory is explained in the first ten or fifteen minutes, so everything is alien, fresh, reminiscent of the real but not even close to anything we’d be able to mistake for reality.

It’s just, my heart is still pumping, there’s still a surplus of adrenaline coursing through my veins. I really did love this movie. It’s fun, it’s pretense-free, they laid out some very simple rules that guide the course of the film and they rarely stray from the formula. It works. It’s pure hyper energy, it’s like an amusement park, one built entirely out of crazy roller coasters, and there are no lines, and they just let you keep riding everything over and over again for as long as you want. For like two and a half hours, anyway.

A quick shout-out to my galactic overlords

I was thinking today, what if some super intelligent aliens were to visit Earth? I’m not talking just super intelligent, I mean like so far advanced that they’d have to figure out some way just to communicate on a level that would make sense to us. To them we’d be like ants. No, even smaller, we’d be like whatever microscopic organisms ants look down at and say, man, those microscopic organisms are so far behind us mighty ants.

So they’d show up here at Earth, these aliens, they wouldn’t even bother saying anything like, “Take me to your leader,” because, being so ridiculously smart and advanced, they’d already know everything there is to know about us. They’d know who our leader is. They’d teleport straight to the White House. Wait, no, that’s not advanced enough. They’d freeze time on Earth and they’d transport the entire White House to their home planet. Yeah, that’s pretty advanced.

And so the President, all of the security guys and secret agents, they’d start going nuts. Their first instinct would be to get Obama down to the underground bunker, you know, the one from Olympus Has Fallen, but they’d quickly realize that there is no underground bunker. They’d look outside the windows and have no idea what to make of whatever it is they’d be seeing outside. That’s when the aliens make contact.

They approach the President. They tell him, listen, we’re in charge now. We have our own agenda that we won’t even bother trying to explain to you, one, because you definitely wouldn’t understand it, and two, it doesn’t matter if you know what’s going on or not. You’re going to do exactly as we say from now on, and that’s just all there is to it.

And maybe people in the administration might try and put up a fight, say stuff like, “This is America! You can’t tell us what to do you goddamn aliens!” even though, technically speaking, since they’d be on a totally different planet, the earthlings would be the aliens in this scenario, although they wouldn’t yet realize the scope of their predicament, just how far across space and time the whole White House has been transported.

The aliens would let us humans have our moment, yelling and threatening and cursing and trying to press the launch button for all of our nuclear weapons, but eventually everybody would lose energy. They’d get tired. Nothing would be working. None of the guns or White House weaponry would have any effect. They’d try to storm outside but they’d find it impossible to even open the doors. Maybe it would take a day, maybe a week, but sooner or later everyone would be out of options.

And so the President would have no choice but to listen. The aliens would be like, “All right, we want you to do this and this, change that, keep doing this,” and so on, laying out their plans, not really leaving any room for negotiation or compromise. Obama might balk initially. He might outright refuse, saying something like, “I’d rather die than cooperate.”

But the aliens would respond, “Are you sure?” and they’d snap their fingers or whatever they do to operate their insanely advanced technology, and another Obama would appear in the room. Because these aliens can do that. They can make these clones, identical to anybody, but much more willing to go along with their alien plan.

I could go on like this forever. What I’m trying to get at here is, what if there’s a force in the galaxy much farther ahead of where we are at right now? What if they wanted to alter our history? What if there was absolutely nothing we could do to stop them? That’s not totally farfetched, is it?

And so after they unfreeze time and send the White House back to DC, that would be it. I’d never know about it. There’s tons of stuff that I’ll never know about even assuming that aliens never show up and start bossing our government around. So considering what I know, and what I know that I don’t know, how can I be sure that nothing like this crazy alien scenario isn’t actually happening?

I’ll never be sure. I’m constantly relying on other people, other institutions to provide me with ideas of what the world is like. I can investigate, I can read, I can do lots of stuff to make a case for myself that what I believe to be true is true, but at some fundamental level, I can never be positive that reality is real as I know it.

So if there are aliens out there, if they are super advanced and omnipotent, I’d like to shout out to my galactic overlords, what the hell guys? Why can’t you let me in on the cosmic fun? I’m just supposed to sit here at my computer and try to convince myself that I’m not crazy? Show yourselves! Take me to space! I want to see what’s out there! Come on!